Monday, October 31, 2011

The Great I Am



Y'all have got to listen to this song all the way through. It's a new song we're singing at church right now, and while this video is not of our praise and worship team, the sound isn't far off. We sang it yesterday and I was completely overcome with the Holy Spirit. It's a beautiful song of worship to our Awesome God. It paints a vivid picture of what it might be like when Jesus returns one day - the day that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Greatness of our God. Powerful song. Had to share.

Weekend Wrap Up

We had a very productive yet laid back weekend. Here's how it all went down:

Friday night we helped our church set up for the free Dental Clinic on Saturday. We got home around 8:30, and John went upstairs to watch the World Series while I watched the House Hunters International Marathon (never a good idea).

We slept till almost 9am on Saturday, which is super late for us, but it was cold and rainy outside making for perfect morning snuggles. Once we got up, it was off to the races! John vacuumed, dusted and mopped the floors. I did three loads of laundry, cleaned both bathrooms, dusted the entire house, Windexed the kitchen counters and straightened up. We were back on the couch by 2pm watching some football. Around 5, we decided it was time to get out of our PJs and get some dinner. We hit our usual Saturday night spot (Chili's) for some grub and more football. We were all in bed pretty early that night for no good reason other than just being lazy bums.

We had an awesome church service Sunday morning. We stopped by the grocery on the way home for some produce. Once home, we ate some lunch, changed clothes and headed to my parents for some pine straw. We needed more to cover the side yard flower bed, so we did that when we got home and some other small things in the yard as well. I also trimmed some indoor plants, cleaned some stains on the carpet, did some touch up paint work from move in weekend over a year ago, wrapped a birthday gift, changed out summer to winter clothes in the dressers, made dinner and packed lunches. WHEW!

Even though we got a lot done, it was a really relaxing weekend. We have a lot of entertaining coming up soon, so it feels good knowing our house is in order. Are you getting excited about the holidays too?

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

I missed it on TV last night, so I was able to watch it during lunch in my office today. Don't you just love Charlie Brown and his gang!?

Love.

As I sat on the couch having some sweet quiet time with Milo before I left for work this morning, I wondered how it was possible to love an animal this much without my heart busting. My Dad often asks, "Milo, how did you know?" I don't know how Milo knew I was supposed to be his Mommy, but I'm so glad that he kept climbing out of his kennel on that chilly October day in 2006. I had no idea this fluffy little puppy would change my life and the lives of some of my family members forever.

Some people say that pets are just animals. "It's just a dog," I hear mentioned all the time. No one can understand the love a pet can bring until they have one of their own. Milo has such personality and unconditional love. He is always happy to see us and never wants to be far from us. If John and I are in two separate rooms, he will lay equal distance from the rooms so he can be in between us. He brings so much joy to our lives and makes our family complete.

What you may not know is that Milo came into my life during a very sad and lonely time. I was searching, maturing and learning so much about myself, but I wasn't in a good place. Milo taught me to be softer, kinder, gentler. He taught me that it's not always about me. He taught me about true unconditional love. He mended a broken family relationship for me and helped me smile through it all.
Buddy boy, you are the best thing that's ever happened to me. It's hard to believe we've had each other for just over five years. I pray that God blesses us with you for many more years to come. Thank you for being you. You are our precious fur baby and we will never apologize for treating you like a human child and putting you ahead and many other priorities. You really are our best friend. Our lives would not be the same without you in it.

While you're at home today all warm and snuggly in your special spot on your special blanket on the back of the loveseat, I pray that you are truly happy. I pray that you are content in our home and that you feel loved. I pray that you feel we bring you just as much joy as you bring us. I pray that you feel well taken care of and that you have sweet dreams of chasing frogs, eating rawhides and sitting on a windy beach.

We love you Milo boy.

Leaves They Are A'Changin'



Captured this beautiful shot from our backyard last night as the sun was setting. Click on the photo to make it bigger.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Wish

(You will understand this quote if your a fan of "The Hangover".)

I wish more people would ask if Milo is a boy or a girl before telling me that "she's so cute"! Thanks, but...she's a DUDE!

Backyard Adventures

I'm starting to think I should start a blog series called "Backyard Adventures" because our backyard is turning out to be just that!

You've seen me post about creatures we've found in our yard - turtles, snakes, birds, etc. When I took Milo out Monday night around 10pm, there was a stray bobcat wandering through the yard next to ours.

But last night takes the cake.

It was around 9pm, and I was outside with Milo for his last potty of the night. He was sniffing around in the grass beside the house near our bedroom (for those of you who are familiar with our set up), and I was standing on the patio watching him. All of a sudden, I hear something behind me running toward me! I didn't have enough time to process what was happening before I saw a DEER galloping through our backyard! It ran between the patio and the bluebird house and was probably ten feet from where I was standing! It all happened so fast that I couldn't yell for Milo or anything - Milo just stood there watching the deer not knowing what to do either.

It ended up crossing the street and going into the empty lot across from our house, but it turned around to watch us for a little bit before it disappeared into the woods. I really wasn't sure what would happen because I've seen video of deer attack people or other animals and I wasn't exactly in the mood to karate chop a doe last night.

From now on, John will be accompanying us for night time potty trips.

Can someone please build us a fence!?!?!??

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ranch

If you're anything like me, you LOVE Ranch dressing. I will put Ranch on just about anything, but I'm funny about it. I like it a certain way. (You know how you go to a restaurant and you can tell they made their Ranch in-house? Do you get excited and try to keep yourself from drinking it straight? If so, you're in luck!) My sister in law sent me the most delicious home made Ranch dressing recipe ever and I'm going to share it with you! Enjoy!!

Homemade Ranch Dressing
"This ranch dressing is great because it doesn't have all the chemicals and preservatives that many do."
Servings: 12
Yields: 1.5 cups
Keeps in fridge 1-2 weeks.

Ingredients
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream (for a dressing consistency, use buttermilk instead of sour cream)
1/2 t. dried chives
1/2 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried dill
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Dry Ranch Powder (copycat Hidden Valley mix)
1/2 c. dry buttermilk
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. dried minced onions
1 t. dried dill
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. pepper

Throw ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until it's finely powdered. Mix with whatever combination of mayo/sour cream/buttermilk/milk you usually do (see above). For 2 cups of dip or dressing, start with 1 Tablespoon of mix, increasing gradually if you think it needs more oomph! Same with recipes that call for 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch. One Tablespoon was recommended, but you may find you prefer using more like 1.5. Make a large batch of this, put in an air tight container and keep this in your pantry for months.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ABC - 123!

I saw this questionnaire on The Sparks' Blog and thought that it would be a fun post for today! (Yes, I am lacking for blog content right now.) Enjoy!

A. Age: 28, and I really am fine with this. My 20s have been so much fun, so I'm looking forward to the last year and half of them before the big bad 30s come!

B. Bed size: King. Not really sure how couples sleep in anything smaller. We NEED our space!

C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning the bathtub in the master bathroom. It's a garden tub and I am 5'0" - everything about cleaning it challenging.

D. Dogs: Milo, the most wonderful dog in the world!

E. Essential start to your day: One can of Mountain Dew and a kiss from my husband.

F. Favorite color: Green - it goes great with everything!

G. Gold or Silver: Gold, any shade. My wedding rings are white gold and my class ring is yellow gold, so I like both!

H. Height: 5'0" - a blessing and a curse.

I. Instruments you play: I played clarinet when I was in middle school, but I don't play anything now.

J. Job title: Human Resources Assistant

K. Kids: None yet, although we already have names picked out.

L. Live: Knightdale, NC

M. Mother’s name: Bobbie Sue

N. Nicknames: Bee. This was given to me by my oldest niece when she began to talk all those years ago. Some people at work call me Beck.

O. Overnight hospital stays: Never stayed overnight but have had several outpatient visits.

P. Pet peeves: Smacking and chewing. I cringe just typing those words.

Q. Quote from a movie: "I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible." When Harry Met Sally

R. Right or left handed: Right

S. Siblings: Two older brothers - Jason and Steven

T. Time you wake up: 7am M-F; as late as possible on the weekends, but I'm usually up by 8:30am

U. Underwear: I have way too much. WAY too much. All kinds. But who doesn't love a good full coverage cotton? Who's with me!? Granny panties unite!! (Sorry Dad.)

V. Vegetable you hate: I tried roasting brussel sprouts last year, and it didn't go so well. Not a fan.

W. What makes you run late: I don't run late. Ever. I am always at least five minutes early. I think being late is a fear of mine.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: Last one was probably the dentist or when I had my elbow x-rayed for that pesky ganglion cyst.

Y. Yummy food that you make: I think everything I make is yummy. :)

Z. Zoo animal: I do love the penguins. Yes I do.

My Best Friend

Love this dog.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kings Dominion 2011

We had a fun day with the Sykes at Kings Dominion on Saturday! It was a long day and a little bit chilly, but overall, it was a really good time!
In front of The Dominator.

We were there 11am-5:30pm and rode eight rides while there. We waited in line for two rides an hour and fifteen minutes each, but they were both worth it! My favorite was The Dominator (above).

John's favorite was The Intimidator, above. It was their newest ride and was really intense! This photo shows the first ascent on the left side of the photo with the first descent in the middle. It had to have been a 100 degree drop!

How was your weekend?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Busy Weekend

We have another busy weekend on tap. In fact, they really don't slow down until oh....January.

Tonight, we're taking Milo to Wendell (stopping at the Great Wok on the way in - yummm!) then heading back to Knightdale for groceries. We're getting up bright at early tomorrow to head to Rocky Mount to meet up with John's family, then driving to Doswell, VA for a day at Kings Dominion!! I've never been, but I'm looking forward to doing this:



And this:



And this:



Sunday, we're both serving at church then go back at 4pm for a Dental Clinic Info Session and night service. Busy weekend, but always good to do stuff we enjoy doing!

As a follow up per below, we got some good news regarding John's job yesterday that helps put us back on track. God is so good!

Have a good weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blessing or Curse? You Decide.

Welp, it's been a tough week. Lest you think our lives are perfect, let me explain.

I've had some tests done over the past couple of years, and the most recent results are showing that the situation's not really improving. I will have another test in February, and if those results are no better, I will have to undergo some minor (albeit stressful and emotional) surgery to fix the situation. I was really hoping and praying it wouldn't come to this.

John found out yesterday that things at his job are not going quite according to plan. We've learned a lot in the past 24 hours and are making decisions accordingly. At this point, it's a wait and see sort of thing.

Guess that's what we get for making plans, eh?

See, we're planners. We're routine oriented and we love knowing what to expect. While the two disappointments life has given us this week are upsetting, we are trying to be open to see what God might have in store beyond this. We have a lot on our minds right now, and we know that trying to figure it out is not going to solve anything.

We now find contentment in this moment. We wait on the Lord.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yard Work is Hard Work!

After two full days of yard work, we are ready for Fall! We were up early Saturday morning putting out fertilizer, pulling up pine straw and making a list for Lowe's. Mom arrived around 10 and we were off to pick up a few things for our day. We planted some more monkey grass and tulips by the mail box and freshened up the pine straw. Then, we started expanding the side yard beast that is the flower bed:

You guys, this hill is KILLER. It is around six feet high and at a 70-ish degree angle, and cutting the grass on it is awful, so we decided to reduce some of that work with a flower bed. Thing is, creating the bed is just as tough. We dug out more space to expand it and poor John ended up spraining his ankle in the process. He's going to be ok! The flower bed is now 6'x40'!! It's full of lilies of different colors, daisies and daffodils. Can't wait to see it start blooming again next spring.

My brother Jason came over on Sunday afternoon with his truck and helped John pick up mulch from Olde Country Produce and Mulch and put it down in our front flower bed and around our five trees.
The yard looks really pretty now - the plants and trees are protected for the Winter and everything looks fresh and new.

Since I'm an overachiever, I spent my weekend doing these things as well:
  • Baked Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter [Pumpkin] Bars
  • Made homemade ranch dressing
  • Cut up veggies for salads this week
  • Baked muffins
  • Baked a new chicken pot pie recipe
  • Cleaned the bathrooms
  • Did four loads of laundry
  • Prepared Monday's Boss' Day gift
  • Went to a cookout with friends
  • Refilled the bird feeders
It's Sunday night and I'm exhausted. There's one more load of laundry to fold and I'm just not sure if I can do it! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Curiosity

I realize it's late on a Friday and most of you have probably put your computers away for the weekend, as I plan on doing in approximately 37 minutes, but I wanted to post one last thing for the week before I do.

I've been blogging for about five years now (the old blogspot address is no more) and I've never done a Q&A session.

SOOOOO.....

Do you have any questions for me? Ask anything! You can either leave your question here or email me at beckyrsykes{at}gmail{dot}com. I'll review the questions and post answers in a few days.

Happy weekend!

Brothers and Sisters

We absolutely, 110% love our precious, sweet Milo. He is our world and he is the best fur child ever. He is also very much the family dog. He loves staying with my parents, loves getting belly rubs from Uncle Steven and really loves licking Aunt Cynthia's legs and toes! He loves going on our annual family beach vacation and is the best boy we could ask for!

Yesterday, though, we got sucked into look at an ad for Maltipoo puppies on wral.com. They were the cutest little fluff balls and we were convinced we were ready for another baby.

Not the actual Maltipoos we visited.

We went to visit the puppies after work last night, and our hearts just didn't feel right about it. They were cute as a button and had precious puppy breath and full puppy bellies. They were cuddly and warm and playful. Being that they weren't with a breeder, there were a couple of red flags we weren't comfortable with, but more than anything, our hearts just weren't at peace about bringing home another dog.

We absolutely love the Cockapoo mixed breed.

Not Milo, but GOLLY these Cockapoo pups are cute!!!

How can you resist this FACE!??!

We are constantly amazed at Milo's intelligence and personality. Of course we're biased because he's ours, but I've grown accustomed to his breed and would feel more comfortable adopting another Cockapoo instead of a breed I'm unfamiliar with.

We ultimately decided that while puppies are so precious, we are going to wait until Milo goes to Heaven before we bring another dog into our home. At that time, we'll do our homework and try to adopt a brother and a sister at the same time. How fun will that be!?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Planting

I've probably blogged about this before, but because it is a passion of mine, I'm going to blog about it again! It's time for Fall planting and this weekend is our time to get new stuff in the ground for next Spring. We're planning to pull up the old pine straw from around our trees and flower beds and put down mulch. We're also planning to cut and bag the grass, weed eat, edge and put down the last fertilizer treatment before the grass goes into dormancy for the winter.

In addition, we are going to plant either a hydrangea...


...or...

...a peony bush in the backyard. Since both of these bushes do well in full sunlight, they're perfect for our yard. I would eventually like to put down some gardenia bushes that also do well in full sunlight, but that might be better done next year.

Mom bought me several lilies on deep discount at Wal-Mart a couple of months ago. The lilies we bought include two variations of pink. This photo is not the exact plant we purchased, but is an example of what a lily looks like.
Right now, we have yellow and orange lilies in the flower bed. The new lilies will be planted in a bed adjacent to the one we did last year. They'll add a beautiful new color!

A few fall planting tips in NC:
  • Plant bulbs - lilies, daffodils, tulips, etc. They are very low maintenance and bloom from early spring to middle of summer. Last year, my tulips had blooms with snow on the ground.
  • When planting bulbs, plant them pointed end UP. You may plant more than one bulb in each hole. Some bulbs will spread or grow back bigger each year, so beware of multiplication.
  • You will need a bulb planter to create the holes for the bulbs to go in.
  • Plant the bulbs before the first frost/freeze of the season. This typically happens mid-late November in North Carolina. A great resource for Fall planting can be found here.
  • Plant perennials during this time of year as well. Perennials are plants/flowers that come back year after year. These include gardenias, hydrangeas, peonies, daisies (all varieties), etc.
  • Perennials will help you save money because they will bloom every year. Accent with annuals (plants that only bloom once a year) based on the season. For example, mums are lovely in the Fall, pansies are nice in the Winter and you're never short of annual choices in the Spring/Summer.
  • When planting anything, it's important to note what light preference the plant has. If a plant does well in full sun, don't plant it in the shade and vice versa.
  • If you're not familiar with plants, you may not know how often a plant prefers to be watered. This takes some trial and error, but a good rule of thumb is that if the leaves look dry and droopy, the plant is thirsty and needs to be watered. If the leaves look yellow and droopy, it is not thirsty and may have been over-watered.
  • The best way to get good results is to mix potting soil or landscape soil with the dirt/clay that's already in your yard. Also, use a good fertilizer in your flower beds. A fertilizer that has done well for me is Preen.
Good luck and happy planting! I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. Email me at beckyrsykes{at}gmail.com{dot}com.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We Made It!

Whew! What a weekend!!

It all started Thursday morning when I dropped Milo off for a haircut at the Doggy Spa. I left work for the day at noon, picked him up, took him home, ate some lunch and left for my hair appointment. After my appointment, I went to Target, Wal-Mart and Lowe's Food, came home to unpack and put away groceries, water plants and start laundry. John and I had dinner at Olive Garden that night and went to the mall to check out sleep machines. We have slept with a fan on, but I've been interested in something with different noise options. Turns out they're quite expensive, so John found a Sleep Machine app on his ipod that he downloaded instead. For the past few nights, we've been sleeping to the sound of the beach/ocean and it's been lovely. Milo likes it too. He said the only thing missing is Grammy and Pa!

We got up Friday morning, ate breakfast, then John took my car to be inspected and put gas in it. He got home just in time for me to leave for a doctor's appointment and to get our rings cleaned at Bailey's. John went to the gym and I straightened the house and packed for our overnight trip to eastern NC. We dropped Milo off at my parents' house around 1:30 and headed for Rocky Mount. We unpacked and spent some time with John's parents before heading to Ayden for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The dinner was catered by yummy Parker's BBQ in Wilson. I hadn't had some good, real, Eastern NC BBQ in a while, so it was DEElicious!

Saturday morning, we got up early to meet the rest of John's family at Cracker Barrel in Rocky Mount to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday! From there, we picked up John's car from the Honda Dealership with brand new tires - they gave us an awesome deal. John went back to Ayden for pictures before the wedding, and I went for a pedicure with my mother-in-law in Nashville. We were home from that long enough to eat a quick snack and get ready for the wedding. The wedding was lovely and we are so happy for the couple - pictures coming later.

We left the wedding around 7pm to pick up Milo from my Mom and Dad and head home. We got home a little before 9pm and were snoozing by 9:30. It had been a busy couple of days. We served at church on Sunday morning, came home to do some chores and get ready for the week. That afternoon, my parents rode to Raleigh with us to return John's tux and get some frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog. We had a lot of TV to watch after dinner, and relaxing was just what we needed!

It's nice to be back at work and sit down for eight hours straight. You know it's been a busy weekend when you come back to work to rest. Ha!

In other news, the trip back to Cancun has been delayed by a few months. We both got a little side-tracked, but we need to refocus on being debt free by June and by the time we take another vacation. Being a grown-up is tough sometimes!!

How was your weekend?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hair!

Milo is at the spa this morning while I work a half day. I'll leave at noon to pick him up, take him home and go get my hair cut! I've found a new salon in Knightdale that I love! I'm able to get the same services I received at a Raleigh salon for more than half the price.

The salon is Heavenly Beauty Salon and Spa on Main Street in Knightdale. This is NOT Hair Junction, for those of you who are familiar to the area. I've only been once, but I was so happy with the service. I was given the best haircut I've had in a really long time. I don't get color or anything fancy like that - just a shampoo, cut and style for $30!!

Go check them out and tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Destination: Cancun!

We have decided on our next tropical vacation destination! We're going back to Cancun!

I'm convinced that Cancun gets a bad rap from people who think it's all about the spring breakers gettin' jiggy wit it and sharing sexually transmitted diseases. Perhaps this is the case during the spring break month of March, but there are eleven other months where there are no crazy, hormonal kids around. The Cancun experience is based very much on where you stay. We are quickly falling in love with what this city has to offer. It is absolutely beautiful and easy to get to - RDU offers connecting flights several times a day.

This time, we've decided to stay at Excellence Resorts Playa Mujeres. It is a five star, adults only, all inclusive resort and spa similar to where we stayed at The Royal Cancun in April of this year. The resort boasts seven pools that are connected by a lazy river, four jacuzzis, five in-pool whirlpools, nine gourmet restaurants and eleven bars. Every single thing is included in the price you pay before you leave - even tips and taxes. You don't have to pay another dime unless you want a spa treatment - that, of course, is an extra fee.

So here it is: Excellence Playa Mujeres:

Pretty, huh!?
Our room will look something like this. After traveling a bit, we decided that we don't HAVE to have an ocean view/front room because if we're in the room, we're probably either showering/getting ready or sleeping. This will help cut down on the price of our trips.
This is the main pool area. It reminds me a lot of The Royal.

In addition to our time in Cancun, we're planning a day trip to Isla Mujeres. It is a very small island off the coast of Cancun that offers great snorkeling and adventure. Our travel agent suggested a catamaran tour that sets sail from our resort.

This is an aerial photo of Isla Mujeres.

We're planning to visit in May 2012 - just a little over a year since our last trip. We're excited about going back and experiencing even more of Cancun. We stayed at our resort (and never left the property) during our last visit, but next time we want to venture out a little more and see what else there is. We just can't get enough of what beautiful Mexico has to offer!

Are You A Follower?

Hmmm????? I've noticed some new commenters lately (hey y'all!) and would love to know that you're following the blog. Take a moment to "Join This Site" on the right hand side of the page if you're new here.

Thanks for reading!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Woah!

We had a nice, relaxing weekend again. It started with dinner and stuff around the house with my Mom. She needed help with a few house projects, so John and I headed over after work to help. We had great fun and John worked hard!

We got up Saturday morning and went to Lowe's Foods, Petco, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Michael's, Hallmark and Wal-Mart. Whew. We had lots of errands to run and got it all done before noon. We came home to decorate for Fall and do a few other chores (John vacuumed and swept the whole house, dusted the ceiling fan blades and changed their direction for the winter - a great husband, I have!).

Milo did this...

Sock thief.

Anyway, I went to my parents' house for a family dinner on Saturday night while John went to a concert with some of his buddies. We decided that we really don't like spending nights apart. On Sunday, we tried out this new frozen yogurt buffet place called Sweet Frog. It's up around Triangle Town Center (over by the BJs) and is so good! It's a Christian organization, and Frog stands for Fully Relying on God. Go check it out - it was delicious!! We piddled around Raleigh a little bit more before coming home to watch the Panthers game and get ready for the week. The week from you know where...

Monday - John has sound practice at church 7-9pm
Tuesday - I have to work until 8ish for our company Open House
Wednesday - HOA Meeting 7pm
Thursday - Milo goes to the groomer; Date night
Friday - Off to Ayden, NC for a wedding - rehearsal and dinner
Saturday - Wedding in Ayden, NC
Sunday - Serve at church, AM & PM

I'm ready for next Monday. Sigh.

In other news, we've started stalking our 2012 out-of-the-country tropical vacation destination. We stay at adults only, all inclusive resorts only. As we've been doing our research, we're amazed at how many resorts like this are available! So far, we've narrowed it down to one in the Bahamas (as of 2012, RDU has direct flights to Freeport!!) and one in Playa Mujeres near Cancun. Stay tuned to see where we go next!

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